Report uncovers drug habits of Australians

People living in remote areas are twice as likely as people in major cities to smoke daily, drink alcohol in risky quantities and use methamphetamines, a study has revealed.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released more detail from its 2013 national drug survey providing an insight into the lifestyles of almost 24,000 Australians.

Initial findings from the study were released in July 2014, which identified:

  • A reduction in daily smoking rates between 2010 and 2013,
  • Fewer people in Australia drinking alcohol in harmful quantities,
  • A decline in the use of some illegal drugs including ecstasy, heroin and GHB and an increase in the misuse of pharmaceuticals.

In the most recently released results, the report found two in five people smoke tobacco, drink alcohol at risky levels or use an illicit drug, while 3 per cent engaged in all three behaviours.

It also identified that people in the lowest socioeconomic status group, the unemployed, people in remote and very remote areas, and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily than those in other groups.

The report also found half of those who smoke daily also binge drink at least once a month.

New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia all recorded “statistically significant” drops in daily tobacco smoking.

The proportion of daily smokers in the Northern Territory (22 per cent) was more than double the proportion in the Australian Capital Territory (9.9 per cent), the report said.

Patterns of drug-use in states and territories generally reflected the national trends.

“Methamphetamine use was highest among the people in remote and very remote areas and those people were twice as likely to have used methamphetamines as people in non-remote areas,” the report said.

The use of illicit drugs in the past year was also more common in people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual.